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MLK at Dayton

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MLK at Dayton

I arrived at the University of Dayton (Ohio) in the fall of 1969, a History and English Education major who took a class on Irish literature from a Professor O'Donnell, and a class on poetry with Herb Martin, a rare black bird.

I didn't know Martin Luther King had been to Dayton, and gave a speech at the University field house, and neither did John Judge, who arrived there in 1965 when ROTC military training was manditory.

Apparently, while a documentary film maker was producing a film about Herb Martin, the black poet, he came across an old reel to reel audio tape that he later learned was a partial recording of a speech by Martin Luther King.

For those of you who want to start by listening:

Dr. Martin Luther King at Dayton, Nov. 29, 1964


You’ll hear Dr. King starting at about ten minutes in.

And here’s the story behind the long-lost tape:

Dayton Daily News, Nov. 30, 1964. Courtesy of University of Dayton Archives, Dayton OH. Please click on the image to enlarge it.

Sometimes history hangs by the width of a thread. A width of one-point-five mil in this case. That’s one-point-five thousandths of an inch, the thickness of acetate recording tape, a quarter inch wide and perhaps 900 feet long. Only about 600 feet really matter. The rest are blank. But those 600 feet REALLY matter and reveal old audio, newly discovered.

Here’s the story:

During the Spring of 2008 while Ron Primeau and I were gathering footage and materials for Jump Back, Honey, we gathered at Herb and Sue Martin’s home for a picnic. I was shooting some casuals for the film…preparing food, interviewing the granddaughters, talking with their daughter, capturing scenes of chow time. It was a delight but we knew that there were plenty of things that had to go on even after the party: papers to grade, studying for a bar exam. So we left, and as we did, Herb asked us to help him load boxes of stuff for the project and for delivery to archived collection of his papers at the Canaday Center at the University of Toledo.

Herb is legendary in so many senses. In particular, Sue calls him a pack-rat of effluvium. He saves almost everything: letters, memos, ticket stubs, notes…if time permits, I’ll post his reasoning on that here. It makes perfect sense.

In the boxes he passed over and materials he sent on by mail later for the project were seven-inch reel-to-reel tapes and cassette recordings from the 1972 Dunbar Centennial that he organized. Also, there were reel-to-reel tapes, cassettes, and VHS tapes of his various other performances. Samples of some of those showed up in the film (and even more are here on the website), with the exception of the video from Midsummer’s Night’s Dream (I watched but have yet to digitize it).

At some point this last summer and early fall I got around to digitizing the audio. It took the purchase of some vastly outdated equipment, having it restored to operating specifications, and weeks of tending, tweaking, ingesting, editing, compressing. Fussy, fussy work. I loved it.

There was one tape, however, that just didn’t fit in with the project and I set it aside. The tape was in a box that indicated it had come from the Dunbar Centennial, but I know that tapes and boxes don’t always stick together. So the tape didn’t belong. Still, it caught my attention. The recording begins with a narrator who introduces us to the speakers: ”The tape which you are about to hear was made in the University of Dayton Fieldhouse on Sunday, November the 29th, nineteen-hundred and sixty-four. The first voice that you’ll hear is that of Commissioner Crawford and then that of that of–uh–President Charles Wesley, of Central State College.”

Okay, definitely NOT Dunbar. Still, I rolled in on the tape (fast forward) to make sure I wasn’t dealing with an audio palimpsest. I wasn’t, but I remembered thinking that Dr. Wesley certainly sounded very familiar, certainly someone I’d heard before. Well perhaps, I reasoned, it was the style of speaking, a certain preacherly cadence.

I set the tape aside for consideration once the film was completed.

Oh, the film was completed, and what fun it all has been…the premier in Dayton, the interest by so many of Herb’s fans. At the conclusion of the premier at the University of Dayton on January 16th, 2009, the film received warm applause. I was gratified. But when Professor John Inglis (he’d organized the showing and subsequent events) introduced Herb, the audience continued its applause and rose as one in a standing ovation. Well deserved.

Ron, his wife, and I were treated like visiting royalty at Dayton. And. on my way home, mulling all of it I wondered what would be next. Every time you finish a film it’s like working yourself out of a job.

But there had to be something next, right? And something associated with this project. What?

Niggle, niggle went my brain. …The tape that didn’t fit in with the other project. There it was, sitting on the table behind me as I sat at my desk. I ought to get to that some day. But first I’d have to bring out and set up equipment, always a challenge in my clutter.

Then came an e-mail and telephone exchange with University of Dayton Archivist Kerrie Cross. ”I have this tape,” I said on Friday, Jan. 30th, at the conclusion of our other business. ”I think it might be important. It’s about the state of race relations in the country and it has remarks from a Commissioner Crawford and a Charles Wesley, President of Central State College.” I explained when it was recorded and what little I knew from my cursory listen. She said that Martin Luther King had been in town, but a day earlier. Hmmm. I promised that I was going to take the time to listen and digitize the tape.

I was right in all that I told her: we do hear about ten minutes of Commissioner Crawford and President Wesley.

And then we hear Martin Luther King, Jr.

…More than 50 minutes as he thanks his audience members for their badly needed financial support, analyzes the state of race relations in America (We’ve come far, but there’s far yet to go.), outlines his theory, commitment, and practice of nonviolence, and admits his resolve to die–if necessary–for his cause.

The speech stops. Perhaps that was where the original tape ran out; it’s only three-quarters of the way through the tape on my machine. Nothing on the other side. That’s it.

Dr. King was about two-thirds through an explanation of the three types of love, according to the Greeks. He covered eros, philia, and had finished the definition of agape but was making application of the concept. He was getting ready to make another major point when the recording stopped. How much longer did his speech run?

Only someone who was there can tell us. And I hope there are many more than someONE who will.

My first call was to Herb: “Do you know where this particular tape came from?” Nope. It might have been given to him when he was teaching a literature class. He did have a reel-to-reel tape recorder, but he’d never listened to THIS particular tape.

And, besides, it was in a wrong box. Someone else could have mixed it in.

The recording was made at 3 3/4 ips. This may be a copy of the original (I strongly suspect it is). There is a small piece of paper stuck to the reel with the name Chisholm written in ballpoint ink. Could this be the recordist? In a conversation with Herb he thought perhaps it referred to the late Shirley Chisholm, who while running for President of these United States in 1972, made an appearance in Dayton. Perhaps there is a tape in Herb’s effluvium of her addressing Daytonites (or Daytonians–somebody help me out here). If he finds it, we’ll digitize that, too.

I ingested the tape into Pro Tools LE on a Mac and the file that you hear has been processed slightly…I rolled off some of the bass. This is a recording made by placing the mic in the audience, so it’s not a direct feed from the podium mic. The recordist is obviously technically very able, but he also is a member of this audience and I think you can hear him make several comments in agreement with Dr. King. As well, there is a little occasional whirring noise, what I take for a spring-wound film camera. That would indicate that there is film–probably 8mm film or maybe 16 mm film–of a few minutes of the event. Where might that be?

So, we share this recording with the world; it belongs to the ages. And we solicit your photographs, memories…maybe even film that was captured during the event. We will share all these with the University of Dayton, and also, if they want it, with the King Center.

So, here’s the recording, if you haven’t already started listening:

Dr. Martin Luther King at Dayton, Nov. 29, 1964

And here’s a place to post comments and–we hope and pray–memories. If you have photos or other media, please contact me.

So, history has been hanging by a thread these forty-four-plus years.

And now history hangs by even a narrower connection: the electron. After all, that’s all this web site really is: electrons holding hands and promising to be good. We pray they will exist in the higher service of justice, equality, and love.

Read the transcript.

Here’s even more:

February 2, 2009–The University of Dayton Archivist, Kerrie Cross, has found more material about Dr. King’s visit. The article by Maureen Schlangen appeared in the January 29, 1999, issue of the CAMPUS REPORT (UD staff/faculty newspaper) page 4.

Supplied courtesy of University of Dayton Archives, Dayton, OH

Here’s a report from the Dayton Daily News that followed the event. As you can tell from the comments and the pictures not everybody thought it was a good idea to have the civil rights leader in town, an idea underscored by the comments of Commissioner Crawford. He may have been on hand to give Dr. King a key to the city, but he knew some doors would remain shut against him.

Dayton Daily News, Nov. 30, 1964. Courtesy of University of Dayton Archives, Dayton, OH. Please click on the image to enlarge it.

February 10, 2009–Cameron Fullam at the University of Dayton said that in his researches he’s found at least one more account of the recovery of a missing tape of Dr. King. The place was Western Michigan University, Dec. 18, 1963 and you can read about that here. If you navigate to the transcript of the speech you’ll find that it is much the same as his address in Dayton.

2 Entries Entries.

Jacob Hall :

July 15th, 2009 at 7:14 am

Neat article. I saw your website in the CMU alumni magazine. I live here in Dayton as well. Born in 1973, this story is before my time, but I have always had an interest in the work of MLK. I scrolled down looking for comments to your article wondering if you have found any more info or tapes on this event.

New MLK speech found « COPA :

July 27th, 2009 at 12:13 pm

[...] To listen to the speech


Edited by William Kelly
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The tape which you are about to hear was made in the University of Dayton Field house on Sunday, November the 29th, 1964. The first voice that you will hear is that of Commissioner Crawford, then that of Pres. Charles Wesley of Central State College.


I come bearing a souvenir presentation, and I refer to it that way because of a calculated choice of language, frankly. You see I am not particularly pleased with the original stature and posture of the City of Dayton this moment with regard to the usual connotation of keys to the city. You have heard, I’m sure, very sincerely and often tritely as a cliché that they are supposed to figuratively at least open all the doors and all the hearts of the city which they represent. There are people in this hall by the thousands who know that in spite of the fact that you are a great minister of God’s people, a world-renowned orator, a disciple and ambassador for truth and good across the world, one of the world’s renowned men, there still in this city are some doors that neither this key nor my persuasion could open for you. [applause]

And so my presenting this souvenir to you would present a rather untenable situation except for one fortunate thing about our city—the form of our government. We have, you may or may not know, a commission-manager form of government here in which the elected legislative body is composed of five men, one of whom is called mayor, the other four referred to as commissioners. Five men elected and who are, under God and under our charter at least, equal. [laughter, applause]

Therefore, Dr. King and ladies and gentlemen, I do not come as a substitute or a stand-in for someone else. Nor do I come representing presumably the congregate voice of city hall. But rather I come as the somewhat self-appointed spokesman of the thousands of people such as these who sincerely welcome you to this city. [applause]

I subscribe to a simple thesis that, for every public servant who glibly lies, there are thousands of men who serve their fellow man well with honesty and care. And for every little group of men who would like to enslave the souls of other men, there are legions now this day that will never permit it to happen as long as men like you give leadership to people like this across this land. [applause]

And in spite of the ills that surround us there are as you well know many good and fine things, and I know that there are literally thousands and thousands and thousands of Daytonians of all kinds of ancestral backgrounds of all complexions and all spiritual persuasions that are thankful to almighty God that he saw fit to have you live in this our day and are grateful that as you make your way across your life’s journey in this world, you saw fit to pause in Dayton this night. On their behalf I present this beautifully crafted, shiny little key, Dr. King, that is the key of the real Dayton. [applause]


Dr. Martin Luther King, he needs no introduction to an audience at almost any point in the United States or abroad. We merely present him because nearly every one of us knows something good about Martin Luther King. [applause]

I present him to you, therefore, as a gifted leader of our times, an eloquent advocate of basic human rights for all, and a voice of a marching people looking forward and reaching for a larger freedom. [applause]

Nurtured in the tradition of religious leadership, trained in philosophy, religion and social science, so as he brings with him powers of analysis, of synthesis and precise presentations to the perplexing problems of our day. Educated at Morehouse College, Crozier Theological Seminary, and then Boston University where he received the highest of the university degrees, the Doctor of Philosophy. A thoughtful statesman, a courageous leader in the moving defense of our national and now our international life in which he has participated with wisdom and resolution as president of the Montgomery Improvement Association and founder and president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. I present to you, ladies and gentlemen, a profound student of the philosophy of non-violence…two paragraphs or three paragraphs of which you will find on the back sheet of your program. A man who is an exponent of peaceful resistance to aggression, a believer in the doctrine of the soft answer turning away wrath, even when attacked by the representative of the MPI who gave him a very derogatory and violent statement, and he turned the other cheek. [applause]

And yet, my friends, despite this, Martin Luther King has courageously gave, in the struggle for the advancement of all the people, in the confidence that the battle is not to the strong but to those with minds and hearts resolute in their desire and purpose to join the race of the free who have learned to appreciate and accept the responsibility for the extension of basic human rights through themselves to all the nations and all the world. [applause]

Universities and colleges have honored him. We honored him at Central State College in 1958. We honored him then. We are here to honor him now as a trusted leader of peoples in all parts of the free world, and we do not use it as some people use the word ‘free world’ in our day. We use it with the prophecy and the hope of the future where the world in reality shall be free. Of that free world, of those people who seek to free themselves from the old and the new colonialism, the old and the new imperialism, the enforced segregation based either upon color or upon the amount that one has to pay, and we would assume that all of us desire to join with Martin Luther in the hope and determination that all men and women, black and white shall be free in law and free in fact and shall brothers be in one community. This is our dream, and it is his dream, and he’s talked about it. You remember in Washington, “I have a dream.” [applause]

This is our dream. You, Martin Luther King, are our prophet. We are happy you are here. Ladies and gentlemen, the distinguished Martin Luther King. [applause]


To the presiding officer, my dear friend, George Lucas, to all of the distinguished platform guests, ladies and gentlemen of the city of Dayton, I did not pause to say how very delighted and honored I am to have the opportunity to come to this community and to see and greet you tonight. I want to pay my deep personal appreciation to my good friend George Lucas and to all of the other ministers of the gospel and to all of the sponsoring organizations that made this meeting possible. I look forward to being with you with great and eager anticipation. And I can assure you that it is a real pleasure. I’m also deeply indebted to my dear friend Dr. Charles Wesley for these kind and gracious words of introduction. And I’m so happy to be an honorary alumnus of the institution that he has led in such a great manner across the years.

I must apologize to each of you for being late tonight. I had to speak in Cincinnati earlier today, and the Rev. Doctor Booth drove us over, and as we started out, we noticed that a little snow was falling, and it continued to fall and every now and then that car would kind of skid and turn a bit, and I said, “Now, Ventral, you slow up a little. Tonight I’d rather be Martin Luther King late than the late Martin Luther King. [laughter, applause]

So several things slowed us up a bit, but I’m deeply grateful to you for waiting so patiently, and I want to express my thanks to you already and in advance for the financial support that you have given to our struggle as a result of this meeting. As you know I’m president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, one of the organizations standing in the forefront of this struggle for justice and peace and freedom. And you well know the great responsibilities that we face in all of our organizations from a financial point of view. The only way that we are able to do the job is if people of goodwill are willing to go down in their pockets and share their means. And I know that your contributions here tonight will go a long, long way toward helping us to raise that million dollar budget that we have this year to do and continue our job all across the south in every state and in every hamlet and village. So I want to thank and say to you that this is of inestimable value for the continuance of our humble efforts.

There are many questions that people ask me as I journey around the country on the question of race relations. But I imagine the question that I see most is whether there has been any real progress in the area of race relations. Tonight I want to try to answer that question in my remarks, and I want to try to answer that question in what I consider a realistic manner avoiding the extremes of both an undue optimism and of an undue pessimism. On the one hand I must affirm that we have come a long, long way in the struggle to make civil rights a reality for all of God’s children. But on the other hand, I must say that we still have a long, long way to go before the problem is solved. And it is this realistic position that I would like to use as a basis for our thinking together tonight: We’ve come a long, long way, but we have a long, long way to go.

Now let me point out first that the Negro himself has come a long, long way in reevaluating his own intrinsic worth. In order to illustrate this, a little history is necessary. You will remember that it was in the year 1619 that the first Negro slaves landed on the shores of this nation. They were brought here from the shores of Africa. Unlike the Pilgrim fathers who landed at Plymouth a year later, they were brought here against their will. Throughout slavery the Negro was treated in very inhuman fashion. He was a thing to be used, not a person to be respected. The famous Dred Scott decision of 1857 well illustrated the status of the Negro during slavery for in this decision, the Supreme Court of our nation said in substance that the Negro is not a citizen of the United States, he is merely property subject to the dictates of his owner. It went on to say that the Negro has no rights that the white man is bound to respect. This was the attitude that prevailed.

And as slavery grew it became necessary to give some justification for it. It seems to be a fact of life that human beings cannot continue to do wrong without eventually reaching out for some thin rationalization to call the darkness wrong and the beautiful garments of righteousness. This is exactly what happened during the days of slavery. Even the Bible and religion were misused in order to crystallize the patterns of the status quo. And so it was argued that the Negro was inferior by nature because of Noah’s curse upon the children of Ham. Then the Apostle Paul’s letter became a watchword—“servants be obedient to your master.” Then one brother had probably read the logic of the great philosopher Aristotle. Aristotle was a great philosopher who lived during the heyday of Greek culture, and he did a great deal to bring into being what we now know in philosophy as formal logic. And this formal logic has a big word called syllogism. Now, syllogism has a major premise a minor premise and a conclusion. So this brother decided to put his argument of the inferiority of the Negro in the framework of an Aristotelian syllogism. He could say, “All men are made in the image of God.” That was his major premise. Then came his minor premise, “God, as everybody knows, is not a Negro. Therefore, the Negro is not a man.” This was the kind of reasoning back then. [laughter]

These were the conditions of slavery and then later segregation. Many Negroes lost faith in themselves. Many came to feel that perhaps they were less than human, that perhaps they were inferior. This has always been the great tragedy of slavery, the great tragedy of segregation—not merely what it does to one physically, but what it does to the soul, what it does to one psychologically. It ends up giving the segregator a false sense of superiority while leaving the segregated with a false sense of inferiority. This is the tragedy of it. It scars the soul. It does something to one psychologically.

And so living with the system of slavery and segregation, many Negroes did end up --- with feelings of inferiority. But then something happened to the Negro. Circumstances made it possible and necessary for him to travel more--the coming of the automobile, the upheavals of two world wars, the Great Depression. So his rural plantation background gradually gave way to urban industrial life. Even this cultural life was gradually rising through the steady decline of crippling illiteracy. All of these forces conjoined to cause the Negro to take a new look at himself. Negro masses all over began to reevaluate themselves, and the Negro came to feel that he was somebody. And religion revealed to him that God loved all of his children and that all men are made in his image. Somehow he came to see that every man, figuratively speaking, from a bass black to a treble white, is significant on God’s keyboard. So he can now unconsciously cry out with the eloquent poet “Fleecy locks and black complexion cannot forfeit nature’s claim. Skins may differ, but affection dwells in Blacks and Whites the same. Were I so tall to reach the poll, or grasp the ocean with a span I must be judged by my soul; the mind is the standard of the man!”

With this new sense of dignity and this new sense of self-respect, a new Negro came into being with a new determination to shrug off, to suffer, to sacrifice, and even die if necessary in order to... [applause]

So we’ve come a long, long way since 1619. But not only has the Negro come a long, long way in reevaluating his own intrinsic worth, if we are true to the facts, we must admit that the whole nation has come a long, long way in extending the frontiers of civil rights. Fifty years ago, even twenty-five years ago, a year hardly passed when numerous Negroes were not brutally lynched by vicious mobs all across the South. By and large lynchings have about ceased today. This reveals that we’ve made some strides. At the turn of the century there were very few Negroes registered to vote in the South. By 1948 that number had leaped to 750,000. When we started out in the election in 1960, that number had leaped to 1.2 million. Then when we went into the elections just a few days ago, the number had passed 2 million which means that we had more than 800,000 new Negro registered voters in the South since 1960. Far from what it ought to be, but it reveals that we’ve made some strides. [applause]

In the area of economic justice, we’ve seen some growth. The average Negro wage earner who is employed today earns 12 times more than the average Negro wage earner of 10 years ago. The national income of the Negro is now better than $28 billion a year which is more than all of the exports of the United States and the national budget of Canada. This reveals that we’ve come a long, long way.

Probably more than anything else in our day and in our age we’ve seen the system of racial segregation crumble. We all know the legal history of racial segregation in our country. It had its legal beginning in 1896 when the Supreme Court rendered a decision known as the Plessey vs. Ferguson Decision which established the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ as the law of the land. And we all know what happened as a result of that old Plessey doctrine—there was always strict enforcement of the separate without the slightest intention to abide by the equal. So the Negro ended up being plunged into the abyss of exploitation where he experienced the bleakness of night and injustice. Then after many years of legal segregation, that magnificent day came when the Supreme Court of our nation in 1954 examined the legal party of segregation and pronounced it constitutionally dead, saying in substance that the old Plessey doctrine must go, that separate facilities are inherently unequal and that to segregate a child on the basis of his race is to deny that child equal protection of the law.

We’ve seen many changes since that day on May 17, 1954. But along with that we’ve seen something else. It happened just this year. We’ve seen the passing by the Congress of our United States the most comprehensive, the strongest civil rights bill that we’ve ever had. And I’m happy to report that by and large communities all across the South, even some communities in the state of Mississippi are complying with the civil rights bill. [applause]

So I’m convinced my friends that we’ve come a long, long way to put it figuratively in biblical language—we’ve broken loose from the Egypt of slavery, and we have moved through the wilderness of legal segregation and now we stand on the border of the promised land of integration, and I am absolutely convinced that the system of segregation is on its deathbed today, and the only thing uncertain about it is how costly the segregationists will make the funeral. [applause]

We’ve come a long, long way since 1896. Now this would be a wonderful place for me to end my talk tonight. First it would mean making a relatively short speech, and this would be a magnificent accomplishment for a Baptist preacher. [laughter] Second it would mean that the problem is about solved now, and it would be a marvelous thing and speakers all over the nation could talk about this problem in terms of a problem that once existed but no longer has an existence. But you see if I stop at this point, I would merely be stating a fact and not telling the truth. You see, a fact is merely the absence of contradiction, but truth is the presence of coherence. Truth is the relatedness of facts. Now it is a fact that we’ve come a long, long way, but that ain’t the whole truth. You gotta get the other side. If I stop at this point, I’m afraid that I would leave you the victims of a dangerous optimism. If I stop now, I’m afraid that I would send you home with an illusion wrapped in superficiality. So in order to tell the truth, it is necessary to move on and say to you not only have we come a long, long way, but we have a long, long way to go. [applause]

I don’t need to stay on this point long. I would just say to you, you can open your newspapers every day and turn on your televisions. You can just look around your community and you would have to agree with me that we still have a long, long way to go. I mentioned the fact that lynchings have about ceased, and they have. We must not overlook the fact that there are still tragic moments of violence and terror taking place in communities in the South. We must never forget the fact Medgar Evers was shot down in Jackson, Mississippi, simply because he wanted to see his people free. We must never forget that Sunday morning in Birmingham, Alabama, when four of our beautiful, innocent, unoffending girls were killed in the Church of God. We must never forget the voice of the ??? calling from the mad waters of the Mississippi. We must never forget that just this summer three civil rights workers were brutally murdered near Philadelphia, Mississippi. All of this reveals to us that we still have a long, long way to go. Since last May more than 40 churches—Negro churches—have been burned down in the state of Mississippi. They have a new motto down there now, not “attend the church of your choice,” but “burn the church of your choice.” This is tragic. It means that we have a long, long way to go before the brotherhood of man is a reality in our country.

I mentioned the strides that have been made in voter registration. Let me give you the other side. I mentioned that we have about 2 million Negroes registered to vote in the South. Remember that there are still more than 10 million Negroes living in the South. A few more than 6 million of these 10 million are of voting age. And yet only 2 thousand are registered—I mean 2 million are registered. Many of these other 4 million are not registered, not because they don’t want to register, but because all types of conniving measures are still being used in some states in the South to keep the Negro from becoming a registered voter. They have some hard questions that a Ph.D. in the field or a person with a law degree from the best law schools in the country couldn’t answer—to the even more difficult question of “How many bubbles do you find in a bar of soap?” I think somebody asked a question like that in some place in Mississippi. In fact, a man went to register at a place in Mississippi not long ago, and one of the questions was, “How many windows are in the courthouse?” Well I don’t know how many windows are in my own house. How am I supposed to know how many are in the courthouse? [laughter]

This is a bit humorous, but beneath this humor is something tragic, something shameful. In 1964 A.D. there are counties in our country where Negroes cannot register without fear of economic reprisals, without fear of death, without facing all types of conniving methods to keep them from registering. And so we have a long, long way to go in America before this problem is solved.

I mentioned economic justice, and I mentioned a big figure—28 billion dollars. That’s a lot of money. Let us not overlook the other side. No person of goodwill will overlook the other side. That is the fact that 42% of the Negro families in America still earn less than $2000 a year while just 16% of the white families earn less than $2000 a year. Twenty-one percent of the Negro families in American still earn less than $1000 a year while just 5% of the white families earn less than $1000 a year. 88% of the Negro families of America earn less than $5000 a year while just 58% of the white families earn less than $5000 a year. This is a tragic gulf that must be bridged if America is to be a great nation. The problem is getting even more difficult today. For years we have been denied educational opportunities on a broad and equal level. For years we have been the victims of discrimination all over the South in overt forms and all over the North in covert forms. We’ve been denied apprenticeship training. For all these reasons we have been limited by and large to unskilled and semi-skilled labor. Now these are the jobs that are passing away because of automation and cybernation. More than 42,000 jobs are being scrapped every week, and the Negro more than anybody else is on the suffering end. I’m not saying he’s the only one; I’m saying he’s on the suffering end a great deal. If automation is to be a blessing as it can and must be in our society, this problem must be grappled with. There must be massive retraining programs. There must be massive public works programs. There must be massive goodwill in order get rid of that hardcore poverty which we still find all over our nation. Forty million people find themselves in that category. And there is a basic demand that we grapple with this problem.

Now you know we hear so many arguments as to why we shouldn’t have integration on the part of those who want to hold on to segregation. They tell a lot of bad things about us; they say a lot of naughty things about us; they say that if the schools and other areas are integrated, this would pull the white race back a generation because of cultural lags in the Negro community. They go on to say that the Negro is a criminal. He has a high crime rate in cities all over the country. Individuals who set forth these arguments never go on to say that if there are lagging standards in the Negro community, and there certainly are, they lag because of segregation and discrimination. Criminal responses are environmental and not racial. As long as you have people walking the streets day in and day out not being able to find jobs; as long as you have people looking down life and seeing that it’s a long corridor with no exit sign. As long as you find people in our society who are constantly seeing themselves on the lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity, there ??? for the whole society. There is nothing more tragic than to build up a society with a large segment of people in that society who feel that they have no stake in that society. Economic deprivation, social isolation, poverty and ignorance breed crime whatever the racial group may be, and it is a torture of logic to use the tragic results of segregation as an argument for the continuation of it. It is necessary to get rid of the causal source. And this is the great challenge facing our nation…[applause].

Now I mentioned that we’ve come a long, long way to get rid of segregation. But I want to give you the other side, and that is segregation is still with us. Now it may be true as I just said, figuratively speaking, that “old man segregation is on its deathbed, but history has proven that social systems have a great last-minute breathing power, and the guardians of the status quo are always on hand with their oxygen tents to keep the old order alive. So segregation is still with us. Today it’s with us in a more complicated and more difficult manner. Growing up in every city of our nation in a de facto sense, much more difficult than the legal segregation that we’ve had across the years in the South. Where do we see it? We see it in housing. I imagine you have good residential areas here in Dayton that I wouldn’t….[applause]

It’s because of this, residential segregation developed segregation in the public schools and in the whole way of life. And so we find ourselves in this ??? when a new form of segregation is coming into being, which in form is much more difficult to grapple with because it is subtle, because it is not legal, because it is not open. So it means that we have a long, long way to go all over this country. Segregation is still with us. But I say to you this night my friends, because I believe it, that if democracy is to live, segregation must die. [applause]

Segregation is evil. I am not opposed to segregation merely because it is politically unsound, not merely because it is sociologically untenable. I’m opposed to segregation because it is sinful and because it is immoral. [applause] Segregation is evil. Segregation is evil, to use the words of the great Jewish philosopher Martin Buber because “it substitutes an ‘I/it’ relationship for the ‘I/our’ relationship.” Or to use the words and the thinking of St. Thomas Aquinas, segregation is evil because “it’s based on human laws that aren’t in harmony with the moral and natural eternal laws of the universe.” Segregation is evil because it is nothing but a new form of slavery covered up with certain niceties of complexion. [applause]

No we must go all out to get rid of segregation and discrimination wherever we find it in our nation. Now to do this, we’ve got to develop everywhere all over the nation a massive action program to get rid of segregation and discrimination. This problem isn’t going to work itself out. It isn’t gonna solve itself. If we are to get rid of it, we must develop massive action programs based on the likes of all the forces of goodwill, people are fighting. And all of the forces of goodwill in our country working to make the dream of our democracy a reality.

Now we’ve got to get rid of one or two myths that are disseminated in order to develop this action program. Now one of them is what I call the myth of time. You’ve heard this; you’ve heard people, some of whom are people of goodwill. They don’t mean any harm, they think they’re right. They say just wait on time, and time will solve the problem. They say to the Negro and his allies in the white community, ‘just be nice and patient, continue to pray, and wait 100 or 200 years, and the problem will work itself out.’ Time will solve the problem. The only answer that I can give to that myth is that time is neutral. It can be used either constructively or destructively. I am absolutely convinced tonight that the forces of ill-will in our nation have used time much more effectively than the forces of goodwill. I’m convinced that the forces committed to negativity and extreme rights and all of these forces have often used time much more effectively than the positive forces of goodwill. And it may well be that we will have to repent of this generation, not merely for the loud words and violent actions of the bad people who will burn a church in Birmingham, Alabama, but for the appalling silence and indifference of the good people who sit around saying, ‘wait on time.’ [applause]

We’ve come to see that human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts, the persistent work of dedicated individuals who are willing to be co-workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the primitive forces of social stagnation. And so we must help time, and we must realize that the time is always ripe to do right.

Now the other myth that gets around, you’ve heard it a great deal during this recent campaign because Mr. Goldwater sincerely believes this myth, and those who supported him. It’s the idea that legislation can’t solve the problems we face in human relations. You’ve got to change the heart, and you can’t change the heart through legislation. Now we heard this so much. We heard it day in and day out. Now I’m willing to concede a little bit here. I would say that the people who set forth this argument are at least working with a half truth because if we are to get this problem solved in the United States, something must happen on the inside, and the hearts must be changed. Now I would be the first to say that. If we’re going to solve this problem, every white person in this country must come to see that he must deal justly and rightly with the Negro not merely because the law says it but because it’s right and because the Negro is his brother. I recognize that. [applause] I would go on to say that if this problem is to be solved, men must not only be obedient to that which can be enforced by the law, but they must rise to the majestic heights of being obedient to God-impulses. I recognize this, but now after saying all this, let me give you the other side.

Now it may be true that morality cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated. [applause] You see, it may be true that you can’t legislate integration, but you can legislate desegregation. It may be true that the law can’t change the heart, but it can restrain the hardness. It may be true that the law can’t make a man love me, but it can restrain him from lynching me and I think that’s what the law ought to do. [applause]

So we must see the continued need for legislation in this area. It may be true that legislation cannot change the hearts of men, but it does change the habits of men. And when you change the habits of men, pretty soon the hearts and attitudes will be changed. [applause]

So I’m for massive action programs, moving away from all of the myths that cloud our days. I believe that we can move forward and grapple with this problem of job discrimination; grapple with this problem of housing discrimination; grapple with this problem of de facto segregation in the schools and all of the other problems that we have all over our country.

Now let me say just a word about the method, and I believe it’s necessary, the method that should be used in grappling with these problems. I am still convinced, while we must work passionately and unrelentingly for first-class citizenship, we must not use second-class methods to gain it. [applause] No matter which preacher says it, no matter who believes it, I’m going on and believe the other way. No matter who believes that preachers of violence can solve our problems, I’m going to, if I have to be a minority of one, to say that violence is not the answer. [applause]

There is another way, a way as old as the insights of Jesus of Nazareth, and as modern as the techniques of Mohandas K. Ghandi. And I believe it is a powerful way to grapple with this problem. It has a way of disarming the opponent. It exposes his moral defenses. It weakens his morale, and at the same time, it works on his conscience, and he does not know how to deal with it. I remember down in Birmingham, Alabama, last year when we went in the height of that struggle, and you remember, I’m sure, when Bull Conner had his police dogs, and he had all of his fire hoses and all of the brutal methods that you could think of. And I can remember the days and hours when Mr. Conner would laugh whenever some of the spectators who had gone through the discipline of non-violence in our movement would throw bottles and rocks on the sidelines, at the policemen and others, and Mr. Conner was always happy. And he was happy because he’s an expert in violence, and that’s all he wanted. He wanted us to turn to violence. And he knew at that moment that he could use all of the forces of his brutality and his police force and kill off a lot of innocent Negroes and beat up a lot of people. He knew that. And brother Conner had to look up morning after morning and see a number that no man could number marching the streets of Birmingham, Alabama…[applause] with humble smiles on their faces, and I’d hear him as he’d say, ‘get the dogs,’ and as he said, ‘get the dogs,’ they would continue to march just singing, “Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around.” [applause]

Then he would tell them, “All right men, go over there and get the fire hoses.” And as he told them to get the fire hoses, that army continued to march non-violently singing, “Over my head, I see freedom in the air.” [applause]

Then he’d say, “Go get the paddy wagon,” and he threw them in the paddy wagon. You could here them going on in there singing, “We shall overcome. We shall overcome.” [applause]

There was something about that that Bull Conner couldn’t deal with. There was something about it that disarmed Bull Conner. There was a power there. And I heard Bull Conner say that integration would come to Birmingham over his dead body. And I was in that same Birmingham, Alabama, just a few days ago and stayed in the biggest hotel in downtown Birmingham, Alabama. [applause]

There is power in this method. You know another thing about it is this: it gives you a way to struggle for moral ends through moral means. You don’t have to live with the old philosophy that the end justifies the means. You somehow have a method of struggle that begins with the end that you seek, because somehow you know that the end is pre-existing in the means. The means represent the ideal in the making and the end in process. If you use hate-filled power, evil methods to get to the good end of a great society, then you will have destroyed the end in the process. This is the weakness and the ultimate tragedy of communism. Read Lenin as he says “almost any method is justifiable to bring about the end of the classless society.” Now this is where non-violence would break with communism and any other methods that argue that the end justifies the means. In the long run of history, destructive means cannot bring about constructive ends. This is what the non-violent discipline says. And the other thing about it, it helps you to stand up amid the most difficult situations because you have an inner commitment to a higher principle. So if they decide not to put you in jail, wonderful! Nobody with any sense would love to be going to jail. But if they put you in jail, if you go in that jail, and transform it from a dungeon of shame to a haven of freedom and human dignity. Even if they try to kill you, you develop the inner conviction that there’re some things so dear, some things so precious, some things so eternally true that they are worth dying for. And if a man has not discovered something that he would die for, he ain’t fit to live. [applause]

A man may be 35 years old and there happens to be some great truth stands at the door of his life, some great principle, some great opportunity to stand up for that which is just and that which is right and that which is true. And yet he refuses to do it because he’s afraid that somebody may shoot at him or his home may get bombed, or he may lose his job, or he may get stabbed. And he wants to live a long life. He may go on and live until he’s 80, but he’s just as dead at 35 as he would be at 80 at the cessation of breathing in his life ….[applause]

Nonviolence gives you the power to stand up here and now against the evils of our day. And the other thing about it is this: that it helps you develop an inner attitude of love for the perpetrators of an unjust system. And this is difficult. I don’t apologize for asking you. When I talk about love I’m not talking about emotional bosh. It would be nonsense to ask oppressed people to love their violent oppressors in an affectionate sense. I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about something much deeper. I’m talking about something that goes deep down within and it causes you to react to every man with understanding and goodwill. I mention goodwill because a lot of people ask this question, “What do you mean when you talk about love your oppressors?” And I always mention the fact that Greek literature comes to our aid in this, and the Greek language comes to our aid in this. There are three words in the Greek for love, and I’m going to talk to you about them in just a minute. There is one word called eros, and that’s the beautiful kind of love back in the days when great philosophers like Plato wrote his dialogs, he talked about eros as a sort of aesthetic love, a yearning of the soul for the realm of the divine. This has come to us to be a sort of romantic love. So I guess in a sense we’ve all experienced eros if we’ve read about it in all the beauties of literature. In a sense Edgar Allen Poe was talking about eros when he talked about his beautiful Annabelle Lee surrounded by the halo of eternity with a love that great. In a sense Shakespeare was talking about eros when he talked about, “Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds, or bends with the remover to remove. It is an ever fixed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken; it is the star to every wand'ring barque…” I can remember that because I have to quote it to my wife every now and then. [applause] That’s eros love.

Now the Greek language talks about phileo. That’s another word and it’s a very significant level of love. This is friendship really. On this level you love people that you like. You love because you are loved.

Then the Greek language comes out with another word called agape. Agape is more than eros. Agape is more than friendship. Agape is more than romantic or aesthetic love. Agape is understanding created redemptive goodwill toward all men. It is an all-flowing love that seeks nothing in return. Theologians would say that it is the love of God operating in the human heart. And when one rises to love on this level, he comes to the point of loving the person who does the evil deed while hating the deed that the person does. And I think this is what Jesus meant when he said, “Love your enemies.” I’m so happy he didn’t say “Like your enemies.” Like is an affectionate sort of thing, and I must confess that it’s pretty difficult to like some people. There are some senators in Washington that I’m finding pretty difficult --brother Thurmond, brother Easley, brother Stinatt…it’s difficult to like them, but Jesus said, “Love them,” and love is greater than like. Love is understanding, creating redemptive goodwill for all men. This is the kind of love that I believe can guide us through this period of transition and lead us to a greater day. And this is what we say when we truly become committed to non-violence. We have a message that says in substance to the most violent oppressors, “We will match your capacity to inflict suffering with our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will, we will still love you. We cannot in all good conscience obey your unjust laws because non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. So throw us in jail, and we….

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